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Kids come pouring in for weather-themed conservation camp PDF Print E-mail
Written by Holyoke Enterprise   

Eighteen area students studied weather forecasting, constructed home weather stations, made wind chimes from recycled food cans and released weather current balloons at the free two-day camp held at Phillips County Event Center Tuesday-Wednesday, June 4-5, according to Denise Swanson, Haxtun Conservation District manager.

Jerry Miller, farm bill biologist, set the stage with the principles of conservation by Aldo Leopold. All things in nature are interconnected and are influenced by humans’ actions.

Caleb Deaver works on his weather forecasting chart and determines the regions that have each climate.

With weather forecasting being the camp theme, various discussions and games on forecasting the weather were covered by Swanson, NRCS technician Tim Becker and soil conservationist Joe Crowder.

Each student made a home weather station consisting of a rain gauge, thermometer and wind sock. Observations were compared on the second day following the preceding evening rain shower.

Backyard Conservation Camp kids show off the weather stations they made to take home with them. The stations will collect precipitation, give the temperature and show wind direction.

Tornados, weather watches and warnings were a part of the program. This was especially important this year with the recent county sightings and the disasters in Oklahoma.

Each person wrote a note with return contact information and attached to a helium-filled balloon. These were launched into the northeast winds in hopes the person finding one would contact the conservation district with the date and place found to get an idea of the wind currents.

Beth Ritter, Julesburg conservation technician, taught signing of the alphabet and weather symbols. The young campers quickly learned their names and the signing for common weather events. This was followed with various weather games to become familiar with weather forecasting without gadgets, weather folklore and weather jokes.

9-year-old Havyn Powell closely watches the miniature tornado she made at last week’s Backyard Conservation Camp.

One of the favorite activities was making a solar oven from the mini pizza box saved from lunch. The inside was lined with aluminum foil and a cellophane window was made in the lid and set out in the sun with a camper’s staple of s’mores. Within 20 minutes, the chocolate bar had melted enough, the temptation was too much, and the s’mores were eagerly devoured by the happy campers.

Others helping with the camp were board member Renee Weis, soil conservationist Sherri Brandt, multi-county rangeland specialist Josh Saunders, Sedgwick County district employee Katie Stortenbecker and district conservationist Daniel Palic.

Over 150 students have attended the annual Backyard Conservation Camp since it began in 2007. It is held during the first full week in June each year.

Holyoke Enterprise June 20, 2013